It is Legal to Prescribe, Dispense Needles to Injection Drug Users in 48 of 52 Jurisdictions Studied

Harm reduction in the health care system: A legal analysis of prescribing and dispensing sterile injection equipment to patients who use illegal drugs
    • December 9, 2005

From June 1999 until December 2000 principal investigator Scott Burris, JD, and a team at Temple University School of Law collected and analyzed laws, regulations and court decisions governing physicians' prescribing and pharmacists' dispensing of sterile needles and syringes to injection drug users.

The research team also examined clinical and ethical issues related to prescribing and selling needles and syringes.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) national Substance Abuse Policy Research Program (SAPRP).

Key Findings

  • In 48 of the 52 jurisdictions examined, it is clearly legal for physicians to prescribe needles and syringes.
  • In 26 of the 52 jurisdictions it is clearly legal for pharmacists to dispense these items.
  • Prescribing syringes is clinically feasible and creates an environment in which physicians can offer patients other medical and substance abuse treatment services.